(CN) – A European country can deny refugee status to people who participate in the acts of a terrorist group, Europe’s high court ruled. But the court stressed that each case must be assessed individually, and that mere membership in a terrorist group doesn’t automatically disqualify the member from becoming a refugee.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice examined the cases of “B” and “D,” two Kurdish nationals who were rejected for asylum and refugee status in Germany.
B allegedly supported armed guerilla warfare of the DHKP/C, a Marxist-Leninist party in Turkey. D was a guerilla fighter and senior official of the PKK, an armed Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey. Germany revoked D’s refugee status and asylum rights as a result of the terror group involvement.
Both the DHKP/C and the PKK are defined as terrorist organizations by the European Union, based on a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The Court of Justice tackled the question of whether involvement with a terrorist group is a “serious non-political crime” or an act “contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
Mere membership in a terrorist group doesn’t automatically mean the person should be excluded from refugee status, the court ruled. The member must also have been found individually responsible for acts committed by the group.
The court indicated that because D had been found to occupy a prominent position in the PKK, it’s reasonable to presume that D was also personally responsible for acts committed by the organization.
The court said that all relevant circumstances must be considered in assessing whether an individual fits this profile, including his role or position in the group and whether he was exposed to pressure.
Exclusion from refugee status may follow even if the person doesn’t represent a threat to the member state, the court added. And the state may still grant the special status even if the person is excluded under the EU statute, the court ruled, so long as this doesn’t conflict with the directive as a whole.